Why Julio Cortàzar is better than Black Mirror
My decision to learn Spanish is linked to a vague pleasure, totally free from the ambition to add another language to the curriculum. Being Italian, I have no merit but only the luck to understand Spanish in a rudimentary way. To improve my fluency, the simplest and most playful form for me is to enjoy (without fault) the literature. So, exploring some Spanish authors, I finally arrived at Julio Cortàzar, and our meeting could not be more beautiful.
In the short novel's collections that I have read and in the course of reading (Final de Juego), the author reserves always a surprise, carefully hidden in the structure of the text itself. My slight misunderstanding of a few sentences makes every short novel even more hermeneutic. The plot, as in the Back Mirror episodes, always takes an incidental fallback, which surprises the readers and leaves them with a bunch of broken words -and safety- in the hand. It is as if the author constructs a small bubble of words with you, leaving you in the enchantment of construction, and then suddenly blowing on it and letting the magic of broken down discovery awaken you.
Minimal episodes of everyday life are the starting point of a story of terror, like putting on a sweater and not being able to immediately find the hole for your head in the short novel “No se culpa a Nadie”. Tiny and infinite moments of terror, amplified by a surprising sensitivity and which open a scenario of reflection on the entire life of the character. Like the author, I too found it difficult to put on a sweater (for example in the ZARA cabins, between the rush and the heat) and find myself in another dimension for a few seconds — a terror state over the banality of not to find the exit from the pullover!
Or like when, in another story, the author has a slight feeling of decalage that upon returning home, and little things seem different to him until he finds himself having a new life, done by dint of small drops of change, imperceptible every time. And you let yourself go to another life in the banality of a gesture like putting on slippers, which you no longer recognize and doubt that they are yours. Still, since they are there and everything confirms that they are yours, then you put them on.
Cortàzar plays with the temporal and spatial dimension questions the structure of everyday life and invites us to grasp all moments as possible spaces toward another (magic) dimension. Every moment of lost contact with the reality can lead to a terrifying elsewhere, in which we can or cannot get lost, refuse or accept, overcome or be overwhelmed by it.
For me, Julio Cortàzar proposes a playful form of psychotechnology (John Vervaeke), as the literacy, numeracy, mindfulness, the Socratic method:
“A psychotechnology is a socially generated and standardized way of formatting, manipulating, and enhancing information processing that is readily internalizable into human cognition and can be applied in a domain-general manner. It must extend and empower cognition in a reliable and extensive manner and be highly generalizable among people. “
Better than Black Mirror television episodes, each story of Cortàzar invites us to review our daily life attentively, looking for small unstitched meshes in the plot of events where we can look elsewhere, with terror or wonder.